No Place for Hate on This Campus

Recent Vandalism Attacking Israel on Bus Stop Advertisement Hinders Coexistence

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Berkeley is supposed to be a place where people of all races, nations and backgrounds can come together and coexist in peace. As the leader of the Free Speech Movement, Berkeley is known for its liberal values and supposed acceptance of everyone. However, the recent act of vandalism on a bus stop outside of Eshleman Hall goes against everything that Berkeley stands for.

BlueStarPR has put up posters at bus stops around Berkeley that ask, "Where in the Middle East do Jews and Arabs play together?" and answer is "Only in Israel." The signs feature a picture of Arab-Israeli soccer player Abbas Suwan who plays for Israel's team. The goal of the ad is to demonstrate that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where coexistence between Jews and Arabs exists. The bus stop outside of Eshleman was previously defaced, and that graffiti had been cleaned off. Last Wednesday evening, someone defaced the poster by crossing out the words "Jews" and "Israel," drawing an image of a swastika equaling a Jewish star in two places, and writing "Free Palestine." In addition, an ad not about Israel that was on the other side of the bus stop was tagged with the same ridiculous comparison of a swastika and a Jewish star, and "Free Palestine."

This graffiti is disgusting on many different levels. First of all, the fact that it was done on an ad that was demonstrating and promoting coexistence shows that whoever committed this crime does not value living in harmony. Second is the fact that the words "Jews" and "Israel" are crossed out. I see a destruction of the words as hatred and possible desire for destruction of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

The most offensive and disturbing aspect of this crime is a swastika being equated with a Jewish star. As most people know, the swastika is a symbol that was used in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust and is still associated with the hatred of Jews. During the Holocaust, six million Jews were brutally murdered, and many more survived, but were emotionally damaged for life. The Holocaust is a painful part of Jewish history, and is something that all Jews are sensitive to. To compare the Jewish people to the very criminals who exterminated six million of us is not only extremely inaccurate, but also a personal attack on the Jewish people as a whole.

This act of graffiti implies that the "Free Palestine" movement is connected with anti-Semitism. One of the obstacles to achieving peace in the Middle East is this hate that exists toward Jews. In order for peaceful coexistence to exist, as the ad is advocating, everyone must learn to live without hating others. A sixth grade textbook produced by the Palestinian Authority called "Reading the Koran" states "Oh you who are Jews ... long for death if you are truthful ... for the death from which you flee, that will surely overtake you." It presents this speech as the word of Allah, and as such, must be taken as fact. In addition, a fourth grade textbook teaches that "The final and inevitable result will be the victory of the Muslims over the Jews." Focusing on "victory" eradicates any hope for a peaceful solution. For one to have complete power over another erases the possibility for a peaceful coexistence. Children should be taught to be tolerant and accepting of all others, not to be victorious over them.

The fact that this happened is completely unacceptable and the Jewish community will not stand for such prejudices in our city. This act will only make us work harder to teach the facts to those who are clearly misinformed about the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Such a hate crime is unforgivable anywhere, but it is especially shocking that such hatred exists on a campus that has historically set the precedent for acceptance and equality for all.

Melissa Solin is the Israel Action Committee co-chair at UC Berkeley. Reply to [email protected]

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